Kissed some friends good-bye today. Special people who have been personal friends and key church members for my entire time here. They joined the church the first day I preached here. A few weeks before that I buried another dear friend. Death is more final than moving, but the latter is still a serious loss and life changer. In the last five years the losses have outnumbered the gains by a wide margin. Moving is part of living. Dying is part of life. Life is not always pleasant.
The Christian believes in redemption, not prosperity. The blessings from God are not always what we mortals have in mind. In a success culture it is hard to sit on the fringes and see failure. It is hard to be a loser when winning is the goal. Living with less when you want more is not easy. Too often we think blessings are an entitlement and the default option for existence. Not so. We are not owed anything. We are gifted beyond what we deserve.
So what is the response to the pain of personal loss? Faith. Faith is not the belief that everything will be okay. It is trusting God is there when everything is not okay. It is trusting God when your list of friends lost is longer than your list of friends still here. It is standing with Jesus in the Garden and saying "Amen" when He prays, "Not my will, Father, but your will be done."
It is hard to know what the future holds. It is not easy to be enthusiastic or optimistic many times. But faith is not optimism. Revelation is not optimistic. Revelation is a promise that God will redeem the future, no matter how negative. Pessimism is not the calling either. In some ways, our responses determine if things are good or bad. We tend to find that for which we look after all. Look at losses or be thankful for the blessings which make the parting painful. Look to the absence or look ahead to the next presence. Focus on what is gone or on what is provided? In the end, our task is more to focus on the Giver and Redeemer. Focus with a heart on fire with loving trust and gratitude
The Lord gives
The Lord takes away
In all times and circumstances, we bless the Name of God. In all times and circumstances means when we win and when we lose, when we are on top and when we are on the bottom, when we have much or when we have little. This is to see as God sees, not the world. It is to receive new eyes. It is a grace.
Remember: We always have our Lord. Always. And having Him what do we lack?